American Liberalism Project Archives September 2004 to June 2006

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Changing the Scene: Stripping Women of Their Fundamental Human Rights

Last week, the South Dakota state Senate passed a bill banning nearly all legal access to abortion. The one exception to the ban legalizes abortion to save the life of the pregnant woman, a very different exception than those that exist to protect the health of the woman. This is an important distinction, as is the noted lack of an exception in cases of rape and incest.

A Republican sponsor of the bill, state Representative Roger W. Hunt, stated that such exceptions (for health, rape, and incest) were “special circumstances” that would diluted the bill itself and its impact on the national scene. Planned Parenthood’s director in South Dakota, Kate Looby, was dismayed by the ban’s limited exceptions (as well as the law itself, of course), and said, “We fully expected this, yet it’s still distressing to know that this legislative body cares so little about women, about families, about women who are victims of rape or incest.” The feeling in the progressive community is much the same.

There are pro-choice Americans calling this bill the “Rapist Reproductive Rights Act of 2006.” While this may seem an extreme spin, it is not without merit. Women and girls who are victims of rape and incest suffer the initial pain of attacks and abuse as well as long-term emotional, mental, and physical pain from these experiences. Expounding that pain with the pain of being forced to carry the child of the rapist or abuser is, in the opinion of many opponents of the ban, a violation of the fundamental human rights of these victims.

Proponents of bans such as this one argue that the unborn child is not responsible for the abuse suffered by the impregnated woman and should thus not be punished for the crime that was committed. It is, therefore, completely logical to punish the raped woman by forcing her to carry the child of her rapist.

What lies at the heart of this disagreement is whose life and well-being supersedes the other’s. Pro-choice Americans believe that the life and well-being of a living, breathing, independent woman supersedes that of an embryo, which is not viable outside of the mother’s uterus. No woman, regardless of how she was impregnated, should be forced by the state to carry a pregnancy to term. But in the case of rape, the freedom to terminate a pregnancy is paramount. The lifelong effects of rape are like no other in known existence. Compounding them with a forced birthing is a devastation akin to torture.

A young girl who is forced into sexual acts by her father will be scarred for as long as she lives. One who becomes pregnant through this unnatural, unthinkable abuse should have the choice, of her own free will, not to carry the child of her abuser. Such pregnancies, resulting from incest, are likely to occur in girls who are not yet physically ready to give birth, and such a birth can cause intense physical trauma, including the inability to give birth by choice later in life. This does not even take into account the massive emotional trauma such a person would undergo.

As a pro-choice American, I abhor all efforts by the state to suppress the right of any woman to terminate a pregnancy for any reason she sees fit. This decision is rarely made easily, and going through an abortion often has lifelong negative effects on the quality of life of a woman who has to make this choice. This, however, is not a reason to outlaw it, just one in support of all pregnant women considering termination to seek counseling in making their decision, carrying it out, and living with it afterwards.

To force a woman to carry and deliver a child borne out of violence, degradation, and humiliation is absolutely unconscionable. The law tries to protect all citizens of this country from violence in all of its forms, so it is illogical and irresponsible to make an exception to this general rule in favor of rapists.

In light of this legal transgression, which effectively strips women in South Dakota, and potentially all women who live in this country, of their fundamental human rights, I am working with other pro-choice progressive activists to initiate a large-scale boycott of South Dakota.

Many have questioned the potential impact of a boycott, arguing that there is nothing of interest in South Dakota or coming from the state that would be effective collateral. What most people do not realize is that although South Dakota is a primarily agriculturally-driven state, it also rakes in over a billion dollars every year from tourism.

The state of South Dakota is rich in environmental wonders–Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, numerous parks that supply camping and fishing opportunities, and great skiing. Every year, there is a huge motorcycle enthusiast rally in Sturgis that draws thousands of bikers from Harley Owner Group chapters all over the country. The Sturgis rally draws in over a half a million dollars in tax revenues alone every summer.

We who are working on spreading the word of this boycott are encouraging all pro-choice bikers to boycott the Sturgis rally this August and to encourage their fellow motorcyclists to join them. We are also urging them to consider moving the rally to another state that defends women’s rights. We believe that a Sturgis rally boycott alone could make a difference in this fight.

However, we are also recommending that all conscientious pro-choice Americans contact South Dakota’s legislators, Governor Michael Rounds (who is enthusiastic about signing the bill, but who we believe might waver if the economic stability of his state were compromised by this decision), the offices of all of the major tourist attractions in the state, and H.O.G. chapter directors and other chapter officers to inform them of our intentions and ask them to join us in solidarity for women’s reproductive freedom. We have also been in contact with, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL Pro-Choice America, and are planning to issue formal requests to other progressive organizations to join us in this fight.

Relegating our female citizens to second-class status, refusing to uphold their right to make their own reproductive decisions, and damning them to a lifetime of pain and suffering by forcing them to birth the children of their abusers is in violation of everything we believe as a nation. Women are supposed to be respected, equal citizens of this country under law. That such laws have been required is sad enough, but to take back what was so grudgingly bestowed after a long and arduous battle that continues even today is unacceptable.

Please join us in our efforts to change the course of women’s rights. We need your help, your passion, and your activism to make women’s liberation a true success.


Below you will find contact information for the South Dakota state legislature, Governor Michael Rounds, the offices of tourism attractions in the state, H.O.G. chapters nationwide, and for the major corporate interests in the state. We ask you to be polite but firm in your requests–a raging mob will not be able to effect change in this legislation, but organized resistance just might.

The amount of information contained here may seem daunting, but it only takes a few minutes to send these letters and make phone calls and send faxes if you can do so, and the possible gains could be life-altering for women in South Dakota and women all across our great nation.

To contact the Rally Department in Sturgis and inform them of our intentions regarding the Sturgis rally:

The City of Sturgis
Rally Department
1147 Sherman Street Ste. #201
Sturgis, SD 57785
Phone: 605-720-0800 Fax: 605.720.0801

To contact South Dakota state legislators and Governor Michael Rounds and inform them that the majority of Americans are against abortion bans that do not give exceptions for the health of the mother and cases of rape and incest:

To contact the offices of various South Dakota tourist attractions and inform them that you will not be visiting South Dakota as long as this ban is on the table, including if it is passed and signed into law:

Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates
Daphne Richards-Cook, Executive Director
Erin Janis, Financial Manager 522 7th Street, Suite 210
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 341-2378, phone
(605) 341-2280, fax

Black Hills, Badlands & Lakes Association 1851 Discovery Circle
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 355-3600, phone

Glacial Lakes & Prairies Tourism Association
PO Box 244
1200 33rd Street SE
Watertown, SD 57201-0244
800-244-8860, phone

Great Lakes of South Dakota Association
PO Box 786
210 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501
888-386-4617, phone

Southeast South Dakota Tourism
800 Mariner Lane, Suite 104
Yankton, SD 57078
888-353-7382, phone
(605) 665-8776, fax

Travel Industry Association of America
1100 New York Ave., NW Suite 450
Washington, DC 20005-3934
(202) 408-8422, phone
(202) 408-1255, fax

Deer Mountain Ski Area
PO Box 622Deadwood, SD 57732
888-410-3337, phone

Department of Game, Fish and Parks
523 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501-3182
Hunting & Fishing: (605) 773-3485, phone
Parks: (605) 773-3391, phone

Great Bear Ski Area Contact Form
5901 East Rice Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57103
(605) 367-4309, phone

South Dakota Tourism
(see also State Agencies )
Sno Wats: 1-800-445-3474
1-800-S-DAKOTA (1-800-732-5682)

Terry Peak Ski Area
PO Box 774
Lead, SD 57754
(605) 584-2165, phone
Snow Conditions: 1-800-456-0524

To send a message to Citibank (South Dakota’s 5th largest employer) and inform them that you plan to destroy all Citibank credit cards that you have or that you receive in the future as long as this ban remains in place:

Citibank contact form
U.S. Service Center
Citi Inquiries
100 Citibank Drive
P.O. Box 769004
San Antonio, TX 78245-9004

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Nation’s Shame

I am fortunate to live in an area of Virginia which has a large dose of freethinkers; among them is John Whitehead, who is a Constitutional attorney and president of the Albemarle County-based Rutherford Institute. John recently wrote an article in the local rag, the Daily Progress, often referred to by locals as the Regress. In this case though I commend the Progress for printing this article for it has much to say about the abuse of power at the very highest levels and the torturous reasoning, pun intended, by some so-called constitutional lawyers to justify the use of torture and the so-called unitary theory of presidential powers.

In this article Whitehead cites a recent debate in which John Yoo, who wrote the crucial memos justifying President Bush’s policies on torture was asked, “If the President deems it necessary that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?” Yoo, who is currently a professor at the University of California law school at Berkeley, replied,” No treaty.” He went on to espouse the notion of the “unitary executive.”

The theory of unitary executive is the idea that as commander-in-chief the president is the sole judge of the law. He is unbound by the Geneva Conventions against torture and possesses inherent authority to subordinate the entire government to his rule-including Congress and the courts- when he decides to do so.

I find it unbelievable that a constitutional lawyer could declare that the president has dictatorial powers. I also find it unbelievable that Berkeley has hired this clown to presumable teach constitutional law; I pity his students. What the hell was Berkeley thinking? Is this what our forefathers bled and died for so that King George could rule us? It’s time to take to the streets and declare that the rule of George is over!

The Article goes onto cite numerous reports on the outsourcing of suspected terrorists for torture through a program known as “extraordinary rendition.” The director of Amnesty International, William Schultz, has in his possession a set of CIA flight logs that he states constitute irrefutable proof that the US is disappearing people into secret facilities where they are held incommunicado without charge, trial or access to the outside world and presumable are being tortured to obtain information. Such tortures include: putting a rat in a pot on a prisoners stomach, heating the pot forcing the rat to dig into the prisoners stomach in a desperate attempt to escape, creating a living hell for the so-called enemy of the state.

We profess to be the nation of freedom and democracy. Bush’s current justification for the invasion of Iraq is to spread democracy throughout the Middle East. Even if you think such methods are justified and I for one don’t see how any civilized person could, they are counterproductive. Interrogation experts have said on numerous occasions that torture does not work. Under torture prisoners will say anything to stop the torture whether it is true or not. More importunately, all torture is doing is to provide more fuel for the terrorists fire. By employing these methods either directly or indirectly we are helping the recruiting of more terrorists and shaming our nation in the bargain.

David Goldberg

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Of Course They're Bankrupt!

Last Sunday's NYTMagazine featured a long article by Dr. Francis Fukuyama entitled Beyond Neoconservatism. It is a confused essay, which nevertheless may be appreciated by the backbenchers of the neocon ideology and proves (in spite of itself) that neocon theory is jingoist malarky. You should read this to see how utterly dull is the neocon mind and how empty their prospects.


Happy Birthday, Jim!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saturday Rain

  • If you know a biker, remind him or her that Sturgis, South Dakota is off-limits until the pricks in the S.D. legislature reverse their mysogynist laws on abortion. Your own trip to Mount Rushmore should be postponed until they come to their senses up there.

  • There's no good answer on port management. Dubai could very well provide us with the technological improvements we need for minimal security. It is clear that P&O Lines was either unable or unwilling to spend. One wonders why states and feds do so little for such an important part of our economy.

  • Iraq is officially in a civil war. They know it and they will butcher themselves and us indefinitely.

  • Bill Moyers, who (I have on first hand authority) has completely decided not to run for President, gave another important speech the other day. Here it is in case you missed it: Saving Democracy


  • Friday, February 24, 2006

    Cisterns of Fear

    If you are at all like me, you are wondering where all this political confusion came from and how it can possibly work out. If like me you read the left political blogosphere and, if you discuss the passing events with your friends and colleagues of a like mind, it becomes ever more apparent that we are stuck in a most unusual place, a logical conundrum in which millions of people with just about the same public experience have come to completely and irreconcilably different conclusions. There has to be a human reason for this!

    On the one hand there are people, like us, who see George Bush as a malignant growth on the body politic, a first-stage melanoma right in the middle of our national forehead, threatening with every passing second the demise of the whole republic when, as surely it will in a matter of moments, metastasize into the brain. On the other we have people who see this dark spot not as a cancer, but as a beauty spot! They love it and him! What can they be thinking? How can so many be so continuously stupid? Do they really hate Liberalism more than they love America? Or is it something else in them, some kind of a familiar quirk of personality that separates them from us, some mental door that has slammed shut on their cognitive processes?

    I am reminded of Joan Dideon's December 2003 piece in The New York Review of Books, which seems to describe the state of the intelligentsia since the national portcullis came clanking down in the wake of 9/11.

    ... people recognized even then, with flames still visible in lower Manhattan, that the words "bipartisanship" and "national unity" had come to mean acquiescence to the administration's preexisting agenda-for example the imperative for further tax cuts, the necessity for Arctic drilling, the systematic elimination of regulatory and union protections, even the funding for the missile shield-as if we had somehow missed noticing the recent demonstration of how limited, given a few box cutters and the willingness to die, superior technology can be.

    These people understood that when Judy Woodruff, on the evening the President first addressed the nation, started talking on CNN about what "a couple of Democratic consultants" had told her about how the President would be needing to position himself, Washington was still doing business as usual. They understood that when the political analyst William Schneider spoke the same night about how the President had "found his vision thing," about how "this won't be the Bush economy any more, it'll be the Osama bin Laden economy," Washington was still talking about the protection and perpetuation of its own interests.

    These people got it.

    They didn't like it.

    They stood up in public and they talked about it.

    Only when I got back to New York did I find that people, if they got it, had stopped talking about it.


    I found that what had happened was being processed, obscured, systematically leached of history and so of meaning, finally rendered less readable than it had seemed on the morning it happened. As if overnight, the irreconcilable event had been made manageable, reduced to the sentimental, to protective talismans, totems, garlands of garlic, repeated pieties that would come to seem in some ways as destructive as the event itself.

    ... [W]e began to hear what would become in the year that followed an entrenched preference for ignoring the meaning of the event in favor of an impenetrably flattening celebration of its victims, and a troublingly belligerent idealization of historical ignorance. "Taste" and "sensitivity," it was repeatedly suggested, demanded that we not examine what happened. Images of the intact towers were already being removed from advertising, as if we might conveniently forget they had been there. The Roundabout Theatre had canceled a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins, on the grounds that it was "not an appropriate time" to ask audiences "to think critically about various aspects of the American experience." The McCarter Theatre at Princeton had canceled a production of Richard Nelson's The Vienna Notes, which involves a terrorist act, saying that "it would be insensitive of us to present the play at this moment in our history."
    Similarly, I found that "the death of postmodernism" had also been declared. ("It seemed bizarre that events so serious would be linked causally with a rarified form of academic talk," Stanley Fish wrote after receiving a call from a reporter asking if September 11 meant the end of postmodernist relativism. "But in the days that followed, a growing number of commentators played serious variations on the same theme: that the ideas foisted upon us by postmodern intellectuals have weakened the country's resolve.") "Postmodernism" was henceforth to be replaced by "moral clarity" ....
    There was the adroit introduction of convenient straw men. There was Christopher Hitchens, engaging in a dialogue with Noam Chomsky, giving himself the opportunity to generalize whatever got said into "the liberal-left tendency to 'rationalize' the aggression of September 11." There was Donald Kagan at Yale, dismissing his colleague Paul Kennedy as "a classic case of blaming the victim," because the latter had asked his students to try to imagine what resentments they might harbor if America were small and the world dominated by a unified Arab-Muslim state. There was Andrew Sullivan, warning on his Web site that while the American heartland was ready for war, the "decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts" could well mount "what amounts to a fifth column." There was the open season on Susan Sontag-on a single page of a single issue of The Weekly Standard that October she was accused of "unusual stupidity," of "moral vacuity," and of "sheer tastelessness"-all for three paragraphs in which she said ...

    (From New Yorker Magazine)

    The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.

    Our leaders are bent on convincing us that everything is O.K. America is not afraid. Our spirit is unbroken, although this was a day that will live in infamy and America is now at war. But everything is not O.K. And this was not Pearl Harbor. We have a robotic President who assures us that America still stands tall. A wide spectrum of public figures, in and out of office, who are strongly opposed to the policies being pursued abroad by this Administration apparently feel free to say nothing more than that they stand united behind President Bush. A lot of thinking needs to be done, and perhaps is being done in Washington and elsewhere, about the ineptitude of American intelligence and counter-intelligence, about options available to American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, and about what constitutes a smart program of military defense. But the public is not being asked to bear much of the burden of reality. The unanimously applauded, self-congratulatory bromides of a Soviet Party Congress seemed contemptible. The unanimity of the sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric spouted by American officials and media commentators in recent days seems, well, unworthy of a mature democracy.

    Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy--which entails disagreement, which promotes candor--has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. "Our country is strong," we are told again and again. I for one don't find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is strong? But that's not all America has to be.
    --Susan Sontag

    Although Dideon recalls Susan Sontag's courageous call in NYr's first post-9/11 issue, still after two years of intelligent scrutiny Dideon did not understand the full effect of 9/11, and daily it seems neither do we. Dideon's statement that "the irreconcilable event had been made manageable, reduced to the sentimental, to protective talismans, totems, garlands of garlic, repeated pieties that would come to seem in some ways as destructive as the event itself..." is decidedly accurate and penetrating, but it does not identify causes. We know from PNAC declarations of purpose that George Bush has taken advantage of the situation to promote an agenda designed to permanently install a radical branch of the Republican Party in federal office and simultaneously to "kill the beast"—to starve federal social and economic justice programs—by engaging in a "long war" designed to implant permanent bases in the oil-rich middle east and thereby drain the federal coffers. How could we have known that the target, the final target, was the Constitution itself? And even then, their machinations are not the Cause of the mental shutdown, but rather Effect.

    How were they able to drag us to this spot in history, this precipice, this junkyard of our liberal dreams? And what of our liberal dreams? Are they in any way complicit in this descent into fascism? Why is it that whenever we see light shining on the abuses of Bush and his administration no one cares to do anything about it? Or, from the other side, you hear "But, isn't he cute."

    The horror of 9/11 is the trigger for what has happened, but only the trigger. First and foremost it was horror, that trick of mental life that allows us to identify with victims and, thereby, bring ourselves into those once proud buildings and into a state of acute anxiety which we call "horror." The next emotions after the horror are very much dependent on the personality. Anger, terrible vengeful anger, arises easily and in some it subsides quickly into a variety of more complicated mental states, or for others anger itself becomes the raison d'etre, a habit, a joy (in fact) for it masks that variety of more complicated mental states which are neither understood, nor at all pleasant. I am going to suggest that the supporters of Bush are prey to this habit of anger.

    Among the more complicated states we have "guilt." America knows guilt like the back of its pale hands. Whereas the pale sides do the work, the color of the back of the hand determines the reward. Guilt is one of our keys. The other is fear—fear with all its tags and fixtures, its couplings and buckles, fear of sudden horrific death, fear of losing personal power and prestege, fear of being wrong or inept, fear of the wrath of peoples we have trampled in our headstronglong rush to world preeminence!

    We have to understand the DLC and the guy across the street with the yellow ribbon emblazoned on his SUV. We have to understand the quisling Democrats in Congress and the not so quisling but rather dishonorable oath-forgetting Democrats among whom the quislings swim. We have to understand that fear produces diurnal bouts of anger under which conservatives can hide their fears. As liberal intellectuals we have to understand our own dependence on and simultaneous aversion to guilt, our embarrassment at being wrong and shortsighted.

    We have to know that the emotions of 9/11 fell like a torrential rain filling to overflowing and ponderous weight the cisterns of fear emptied when the Soviet Union disappeared in a twinkling, ... and soaking into the ground and aquifers to be pumped to your kitchen to boil potatoes, that process of removing nourishment from good things while adding to the mounting mass of flesh we have become.

    (It is true that America is overweight, but it is not well understood that this phenomenon is but one symptom of the ghastly mental health of this nation, the neurosis of 9/11 fear that creates helplessness and hopelessness. America is committing slow suicide because it cannot deal with its guilt and its fears and its anger.)

    The flood of grief and horror was turned to fear, then anger and guilt, anger for the conservatives, guilt for the liberals. These, especially Fear, are emotions more befitting the processes and platitudes of organized religion. It is not surprising, therefore, that fundamentalist religion with its narrow tolerances has flourished in the aftermath, bringing real and imaginary solace to horrified people who cannot shake the imagery of planes being driven like stakes into the heart of American military-industrial-corporate icons, nor deal with the marrow anger they have because of it.

    All Americans have been traumatized, not just our weakest minded or our obviously vulnerable, not just conservatives, not just low IQ people. All of us have. We just respond differently. Even the strong of heart have been manipulated and the strong of mind duped by none other than their own basic reflexes and, of course, with a little help from people who care not a bit for democracy, the Constitution, or humane principles. The left intellectual search for meaning and for redemption of ideology after 9/11 had the unintended (but nevertheless foreseeable) effect of paralyzing their principles and humane work. With the source of confidence held in check, they were left flopping like so many multi-colored fish in emptied goldfish bowls, derided by detractors, pilloried as effete and irrelevant. It only took a few.

    It will be relatively easy to throw off the effects of the self-centered and powerful, the corporations, the proto- and neo-fascists when we have learned to stop allowing ourselves to hide in paralytic fear. Yes, terrorists are bad, but they are not ubiquitous, and our quest for social and economic justice in America does not promote their madness. It does not.

    Perhaps more than any, our elected Democrats have been bludgeoned into submission by their fears. This is not surprising, since the real epicenter of the aftermath is Washington, not New York. Some (many perhaps) have feared that they will be held accountable for the 9/11 terror and aftermath, for in their arrogance they took themselves to be more than representatives. Some will fear financial loss, for after all, the immediate aftermath was recession and much was lost, confidence and cash. Some fear the loss of constituency to parties that promise more and demand less. Some fear the de-emphasis of principles upon which they rested their case before the polls. Some fear fear itself and have forgotten how to not fear. Being the minority pulls them into inactivity and after a thrashing by the arrogant radical right, they cower on their side of the aisle in terror of further humiliation. Ask Senator Leahy; it only took a few.

    When the Administration plays a fear card ALL fears twitch, ALL fears throb, ALL fears glower over better instincts. The fears of the right that convert quickly to anger and relived horror twitch and throb. The fears of the left that convert quickly to guilt and destruction of confidence in liberal principles twitch and throb. It turns into a game of operant conditioning with the Administration zapping us mice with aversive stimuli. The solution is to find a way to recognize a fear card for what it is and to forgive yourself for autonomic responses, ... but to not forgive yourself for pandering after the adrenaline high of horror and anger and guilt.

    Each age has its honor and its toil!

    Listen! Hear the steady voices of integrity, of honest humane care.

    It may be that radical deconstructionist post-modernist relativism is wrong or disabling in other ways.

    It may be our ethics need repair, our honor burnish, our means more closely match our ends.

    It may be that despising the palpably fatuous has allowed them to gnaw a hole through to our hearts, and that we may die.

    But, something, principles of rational and civil discourse, must survive.

    Come, my fellow Liberals, arise, and beat down the oppression of your fears, the familiar fears and the ones you cannot name. Be not guilty more than your part and fraction.

    Arise and, throwing off the pall of guilt, reset our course for freedom and democracy, for though we are not that force which in former days built social and economic justice, that which we are, we are, today's defenders of individual liberty and the rule of law. We are Liberals and Progressives. We are strong of mind and heart, we are the vanguard force of a thousand years of human progress, and we will not yield!

    James Richard Brett

    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    ABORTION: Intact Dilation & Extraction

    The following is a re-working of a letter I wrote last year to my mother in response to her regurgitation to me of myths about the "Partial Birth Abortion" procedure -- deliberately, maliciously misnamed by the Extreme Right Wing Christofascist Neocon Zombie Brigade.

    Given the Supreme Court's declaration of its intent to hear arguments about the so-called "Partial Birth Abortion Ban," I thought it pertinent.

    I apologise for the lack of link references, but at the time I wrote it, I wasn’t thinking like a writer – and I knew the links would just confuse the hell out of my intended reader.

    Dearest, dearest Mom,

    I can’t just respond to the main question. Whenever I hear someone use the misnomer “partial birth abortion” and back it up with a description without context, I must clarify it.

    First, let’s get our terms straight. The so-called “partial birth abortion” is a misnomer, to say the least. The procedure is not abortion as defined within medical science. The term "abortion" means the termination of pregnancy before the fetus is viable. However, it does fall within the definition of "abortion" which is used by most of the public.

    The medical terms: "D&X" procedures, an abbreviation of "dilate and extract," or "Intact D&E," or "Intrauterine Cranial Decompression" procedures.

    The odious and dishonest term "Partial Birth Abortion" was recently created by pro-life groups when the procedure became actively discussed at a political and religious level.

    By the way, the vast, VAST majority of D&Xs are performed on non-viable fetuses, generally having little brain tissue at all -- or a mass of liquefied brain tissue. Obviously, your claim that "...If you were not afraid it would come out kicking screaming and breathing like a real baby it would not be necessary to de-brain it..." does not apply in those cases. I wonder if that is made clear in pro-life propaganda?

    What is the D&X Procedure?

    The D&X procedure is usually performed during the fifth month of gestation or later. The woman's cervix is dilated, and the fetus is partially removed from the womb, feet first. The surgeon inserts a sharp object into the back of the fetus' head, removes it, and inserts a vacuum tube through which the brains are extracted. The head of the fetus contracts at this point and allows the fetus to be more easily removed from the womb.

    Why D&X procedures Are Performed:

    1st Trimester:
    D&Xs are not performed during the first three months of pregnancy, because there are better ways to perform abortions. There is no need to follow a D&X procedure, because the fetus' head quite small at this stage of gestation and can be quite easily removed from the woman's uterus.

    2nd Trimester:
    D&Xs are very rarely performed in the late second trimester at a time in the pregnancy before the fetus is viable. These, like most abortions, are performed for a variety of reasons, including:

    -- She is not ready to have a baby and has delayed her decision to have an abortion into the second trimester (or perhaps has been OBSTRUCTED from receiving the abortion earlier, as is OFTEN the case) .As mentioned above, 90% of abortions are done in the first trimester.

    -- There are mental or physical health problems related to the pregnancy.

    -- The fetus has been found to be dead, badly malformed, or suffering from a very serious genetic defect. This is often only detectable late in the second trimester. Obviously, "...If you were not afraid it would come out kicking screaming and breathing like a real baby it would not be necessary to de-brain it..." does not apply, since in most cases the fetus doesn't HAVE a brain -- not one that will ever FUNCTION, anyway.

    3rd Trimester:
    D&X procedures are also very rarely performed in late pregnancy. The most common justifications at that time are:

    -- The fetus is dead.
    I repeat: Obviously, "...If you were not afraid it would come out kicking screaming and breathing like a real baby it would not be necessary to de-brain it..." does not apply.

    -- The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would place the woman's life in severe danger.

    -- The fetus is alive, but continued pregnancy would grievously damage the woman's health and/or disable her.

    -- The fetus is so malformed that it can never gain consciousness and will die shortly after birth. Many which fall into this category have developed a very severe form of hydrocephalus. Obviously, "...If you were not afraid it would come out kicking screaming and breathing like a real baby it would not be necessary to de-brain it..." does not apply.

    -- In addition, some physicians violate their state medical association's regulations and perform elective D&X procedures - primarily on women who are suicidally depressed.

    There appears to be no reliable data available on how many D&X procedures are performed for each of the above reasons.

    The physician is faced with two main alternatives at this late point in pregnancy:

    -- a ”hysterotomy,” which is similar to a Cesarean section, or

    -- a D&X procedure.

    Approximately 1 in 2000 fetuses develop hydrocephalus while in the womb. About 5000 fetuses develop hydrocephalus each year in the U.S. This is not usually discovered until late in the second trimester. Some cases are not severe. After birth, shunts can be installed to relieve the excess fluid on the newborn's brain. A pre-natal method of removing the excess fluid is being experimentally evaluated. However, some cases are much more serious. "It is not unusual for the fetal head to be as large as 50 centimeters (nearly 20 inches) in diameter and may contain...close to two gallons of cerebrospinal fluid." In comparison, the average adult skull is about 7 to 8 inches in diameter. A fetus with severe hydrocephalus is alive, but as a newborn cannot live for long; it cannot achieve consciousness. The physician may elect to perform a D&X by draining off the fluid from the brain area, collapsing the fetal skull and withdrawing the dead fetus. Or, he might elect to perform a type of caesarian section. The former kills a fetus before birth; the latter allows the newborn to die after birth, on its own. A caesarian section is a major operation. It does expose the woman to a greatly increased chance of infection. It poses its own dangers to a woman and any future pregnancies. Allowing a woman to continue in labor with a severely hydrocephalic fetus is not an option; an attempted vaginal delivery would kill her and the fetus.

    The exact number of D&Xs performed is impossible to estimate with accuracy. Many states do not have strict reporting regulations.

    One often quoted figure was that over 1000 D&Xs had been performed annually in New Jersey. From this number, many inflated national totals were estimated. But the New Jersey figure appears to be an anomaly. A single physician in a single NJ hospital had been ignoring the regulations of the state medical association and performing D&Xs in cases not involving the potential death or serious disability of the woman.

    Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, estimated (Nightline program, 1997-FEB-26) a total of 3,000 to 4,000 annually in the US -- about ten a day.

    Pro-life groups discovered an internal memo by Planned Parenthood which estimated that up to 60 (0.24%) of the more than 25,000 abortions performed annually in Virginia were D&Xs. If this figure is accurate nationally, then there would be up to 2,880 D&X procedures per year in the U.S.

    Referring to a Virginia state law, Bennet Greenberg, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia said: "I'm not aware of a need for this bill in the first place, since this procedure is very, very rare, and I'm not aware it's ever been used [in Virginia]."

    And now, for some sources of some DISINFORMATION about D&X:

    -- On 1995-JUL-19, on the radio program Focus on the Family Dr. (sic) James Dobson referred to “PBAs” (sic) as a type of "Nazi era experimentation" in which doctors "suck the brain matter out of a living, viable baby for use in medical experiments.”

    The incorrect impression given was that this is a procedure requested by researchers eager to study brain structure. They arbitrarily select an about-to-be-born fetus at random from the nearest delivery room, and kill it in order to get more research material. The program generated a flood of telephone calls which paralyzed Federal government switchboards.

    To our knowledge, Dr. Dobson has never apologized for his misleading statements or corrected his misrepresentation of the facts.

    -- Senator Rick Santorum, one of the leaders in the Senate of a D&X ban, said that the procedure is a gruesome form of infanticide.

    [The term infanticide refers to the killing of a newborn infant; it is not applicable to an unborn fetus during a D&X procedure.]

    Senator Santorum also said that it is a lie to argue that a D&X is sometimes required to protect a woman from a serious health risk.

    But if he truly believed that statement, then he would not have objected to President Clinton's request that an exemption be added to the bill in cases of serious health risks to the woman. After all, if there was no risk of a devastating health problem, then the exemption would never be exercised, and there would be no harm in including it in the bill.

    D&X is, as you can see, not a common procedure, not by a long shot – it is performed in cases of ABSOLUTE necessity. The way the pro-life movement refers to it, you’d think it was as common as a first trimester abortion. That’s not a mistake. They WANT you to think that, because it is a horrifying procedure, one no woman undergoes unless she has to – but that fact, which should be obvious, is obscured in favour of the incendiary and mendacious lies perpetrated by people who would like nothing more that to outlaw all abortion.

    And why is that? Because they consider abortion to be murder. I’ll make a brief mention of this hypocrisy and move on: a majority of the same people who are trying to outlaw abortion support the death penalty and George W. Bush’s unjust, immoral war on Iraq, where thousands of innocent people have died and will continue to die.

    Whew. Now, as to your question – when is it a person and no longer a fetus? You’re not going to like my answer.

    I could delve into the vagaries of “quickening,” “immortal souls,” “functioning brain waves,” “beating hearts” and many more – but I consider them beside the point, while you consider the question to BE the point -- though it's rather disingenuous to ask the question when you refuse to accept any answer but your own.

    Which is why neither side will ever move on this issue. There’s a lot of grey area, to be sure, but when you come right down to it, the pro-choice side – MY side – demands that the decision to have an abortion belong to the woman alone. Rather than speak for everyone on the pro-choice side, I’ll speak for myself from this point -- finally, here comes the answer...

    When does a fetus become a person? It’s a person when the woman carrying it says it’s a person. It’s not an absolute. It would be so very nice if God would come down and tell us “at X date in a pregnancy,” but that hasn’t happened yet. I doubt it ever will.

    If you want to know when I would consider it a person, I’d have to take it on a case by case basis. Once I decided Terry would be carried to term, he became a person. If I get pregnant again, it’s not ever going to be a person. I don’t want another child, and if birth control fails me, I’ll have an abortion to prevent it. For medical reasons, a tubal ligation is off the table, so to speak. We’ve investigated vasectomy, but it’s not covered by insurance and we don’t HAVE the extra money.

    I cannot have another child. Never mind the financial and logistical problems it would cause – I don’t think my body could survive another full term pregnancy. For the record, neither do my doctors.

    I want to pose a hypothetical here:

    Let’s say I did get pregnant and DID want to have another baby, and DID decide to carry to term. Further, let us suppose that at 7 months, the fetus inside me were to DIE.

    Are you aware that according to the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban” law, I would be PROHIBITED from having that fetus removed from my body vaginally? THAT my only other options would be to WAIT for it to FALL out of me… or to be cut open, caesarean-style, to facilitate the removal of a dead fetus from my uterus?

    Extreme? Yeah. Let’s say it wasn’t dead… just malformed to the point of being UNVIABLE. Would you force me to carry to term a fetus incapable of surviving outside my body? A fetus with a liquefied brain? A fetus with no arms or legs and lacking, say, two or three vital organs? The PBAB dictates that must be the case.

    Or, let’s say, the doctor determined that carrying to term would result in my death or severe health problems – paralysis, brain damage…

    Shall we now begin to write laws demanding that a doctor PROVE to some Investigatory Body that the D&X was medically necessary to save my life or prevent said health damage? What proof would be required? Will there be footnotes? Videotape of me on the table, of the fetus, of the body parts?

    If THAT sounds extreme, it ought. But last year a legislator in Virginal attempted to pass a law that would require women to PROVE they had a MISCARRIAGE. (After a righteous public outcry, he took it off the table. But I bet the sucker would have PASSED if it weren’t for an enterprising BLOGGER who raised the hue and cry.)

    I realize I am in a minority in that I would have no restrictions at all -– aside from standard health regulations, of course -- at a federal, state or local level. I believe this is a medical issue best left to a woman and her doctor, and that any government edicts regarding abortion are reprehensible.

    Women must be free to make their own medical decisions-- and trusted to make the correct decisions, with the guidance of medically trained professionals. If anyone wants to split hairs with me about this by throwing out late term abortion or D&X, I would simply repeat: It is a MEDICAL decision and it is up to the woman and her doctor.

    Certainly, in the case of the D&X, the decision is heavily dependent on the doctor. But as opposed as I am to allowing the state to make medical decisions by outlawing abortion, so am I opposed to allowing doctors to make them completely; I would submit that if a doctor tells a woman she must have a D&X or risk death – and that woman chooses NOT to have the procedure, that is ALSO her choice.

    For some women, the fetus is always a baby.

    But, sometimes, maybe, never.

    If you've got a fetus growing in you that you don't want there, to YOU, it might not be a baby. It might be a parasite. And you might just be willing to do anything ...

    That's why there will always be abortions -- legal or not. Always have been, always will be.

    I’ll leave the moral questions to the individual. For me, the issue is simple: It’s my body. And I don’t want the state or any group of people whose religious beliefs differ from mine (and increasingly, those two groups are becoming terrifyingly melded) coming into my gynecologist’s office while I’m on the table and dictating which procedure I may and may not have.

    I don’t believe in the same God you do. I don’t believe the same things about life, the universe and morality that you do. Why should you have the right to force me to adhere to “moral laws” created, interpreted and dictated by a God in whom I don’t believe?

    It’s tricky, I know, because so many other “moral laws” of ours are in agreement. Murder, rape, theft, brutality, cruelty – and the various methods in which these crimes are perpetrated – all of these we share.

    But we’re stuck, I think. You believe a fetus is a person from the moment of conception; I do not. You believe that “person” has the right to life, and that abortion is murder. I do not. You are, therefore, compelled by your own standards of morality, acquired through your life experience and your religion, to fight against abortion; I am compelled by my own standards, acquired through my own life experience and my own spiritual beliefs, to fight for it. Impasse.

    I hope I have clarified any questions about my beliefs you have on this issue.

    Incidentally, you still haven’t clarified for me how you can choose to vote for George W. Bush SOLELY on the basis of his “pro-life” stance and probable Supreme Court appointments to reverse Roe v. Wade…

    when George W. Bush is an avid proponent of the death penalty and has taken us into a war, killing hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions by the time it ends.

    I, at least, have some moral ambiguity on my side, due to my belief that abortion is not murder.

    You seem to be choosing the lives of the unborn over the lives of those dying in Iraq, Afghanistan and off Death Row. Is it about quantity, then, not quality?

    Another Bush term in the White House might well result in a reversal of Roe v. Wade, perhaps even send abortion back to the alleys and illegal abortionists, thereby cutting down on the number of abortions (and increasing the number of abused, neglected, malnourished children without health care or parents who want them – and the number of women who die from illegal abortions) – but it is also guaranteed to send more American soldiers back in body bags, and more Iraqis into mass graves.

    I just don’t understand that. It would seem that you believe George W. Bush is the lesser of two evils; that you believe eliminating safe, legal abortion is a lesser evil than mass murder by way of war, along with the unpleasant repercussions of criminalizing abortion I just mentioned.

    I choose the living over the “potentially living.” I choose the woman over the fetus. I choose to allow for the reckless abuse of abortion by the few in order that the MANY may have the freedom to make their own medical decisions without government interference. And until someone can prove to me beyond a SCIENTIFIC doubt that a “potential human being” has a SOUL, I’m going to assume that whatever Deity there is out there, if there is one, has factored abortion into the universal equation and that those SOULS… are doing just fine wherever they may be, thank you very much. The God in whom I believe (occasionally) is not so sadistic as to consign millions of unborn souls to limbo, nor so sadistic as to have created a world where women are forced to give birth to their rapists’ offspring because every sperm if fucking sacred. If that’s the kind of God that exists, I want NO PART of that God. That God can kiss my apostate, irreligious ASS.

    Sorry – you wanted a simple answer, but you know better than that. There are no simple answers in this world outside of a restaurant.

    My mother did not read this. I wrote it for her, to further clarify both my position AND the facts surrounding the D&X procedure. But, as is unfortunately so OFTEN the case with her and people who feel as she does, the FACTS are so much less compelling than the MYTHS that she opts to stick with the emotional manipulation of propagandists and charlatans.

    I'm sorry, mom, but if we're going to communicate, I have to tell the truth. And, like it or not, I communicate in this new medium. I don't think I've portrayed you unfairly, but if you feel that's so, I WELCOME your response here in print, since you refuse to discuss it on the phone.

    And while I have you here, I feel it imperative to reiterate my frequently posed question to you, the one you answer with, "I can't explain it, it's just the way I FEEL:"

    What kind of an omniscient, omnipotent, LOVING God would decree that a fertilised egg in a petri dish is, as you admit, "Just a bunch of cells," but then decree also that once that "bunch of cells" is implanted in a uterus, it is Now A Human Being with A Soul and Must Not Be Removed?

    It. Makes. No. Sense. Not scientifically, that's patently obvious -- but not ECCLESIASTICALLY, either. Either a fertilised egg is human, or it AIN'T. You CANNOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. What, now the UTERUS is the mechanism that imbues Life and a Soul?

    Aaaaaargh! The illogic makes me fucking INSANE!

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Ladies Who Lunch

    "So," says earnest girlfriend #1, "who hasn't been chipped yet?"

    "O heavens, that is such old news!" responds earnest girlfriend #3. "I do not know anyone anymore who isn't, or is admitting to it at least, do you?" she asks earnest girlfriends 2 and 4. All shook their heads in agreement.

    "My husband just got an upgrade last week, and he says you cannot believe all the new features. He ordered me one for my birthday and I just cannot wait to get it! I am just so lucky! Imagine all those poor people out there with nothing but the basic model. It gives me chills!"

    GF #4 said, "This new one keeps track of his golf handicap, meeting schedules, when the car needs servicing, even airline reservations and vacation plans, and scans at the fast lane tolls as well! Utterly amazing!"

    "Well, you do know that they are chipping newborns didn't you? So much more reasonable than the old SS number. Those flimsy little cards you used to have. Said you couldn't laminate them but, if you didn't, the thing fell apart. Modern technology is incredible. Oh! I almost forgot, and it was the one thing I was so excited about showing you ladies."

    With that GF #1 stuck one well manicured hand into the middle of the group. "Do you see it?" she asked.

    "See what?" they responded in unison.

    "There, right there on my pinky finger nail." All eyes strained to see.
    "It is the latest in pc's! Satellite run, voice activated. Saves so much time. If I have forgotten to send mom, or anyone, an email, I simply 'talk to the hand'," she giggled. "Not only that, but because they were designed to be compatible with the chip, it can find mom or whomever I am trying to reach immediately. One big plus is that it has freed up all sorts of room in our media center. I couldn't live without it, and honestly do not know how I got along without it before!"

    Although she had been dutifully chipped, and supposed she had a fairly recent model, GF #2 seemed to be rather subdued in the midst of all the oohing and ahhing over these latest technological advances. Something in her felt at odds with what had been happening in the last few years. Harmless enough, everyone had said about the new chip technology. What a time saver! What a life saver! Never fear for your children's safety again! Just what was it that made her feel, well, unnerved about this whole business? She had always been the analytical one, the reasonable one. The one who was the last to jump on any band wagon, and yet here she was, chipped like everyone else. But who else, besides herself had that gnawing feeling that persisted daily? Perhaps one of the GF's did?

    "Ladies, do you ever think about all this and feel that somehow, it is just not...what's the word I am looking for...well that it somehow just doesn't seem right? "

    All heads turned toward GF #2.

    "Now what on earth would make you think that?" said GF #4.

    "Well, I for one can't think of any downside to what it makes up for in saving me time and allowing me peace of mind. I am not fearful of the terrorists anymore. No chip then they can track them. Wasn't that the original idea behind this? Just a bonus that it works so that we can reap the benefits of the other functions it can perform."

    All murmured agreement. Never once, apparently, had one of them thought that they might have been victims of the hype from their government and certainly not when that hype solidly landed on the side of Homeland Security and personal safety. How very much everyone seemed to yearn for the cocoon of peace.

    "But there truly is a downside to this," GF #2 continued. "Just exactly who is in charge of this program? A private corporation? One hired by the government to run or does the government itself handle it? You know they have a stake in this somehow, because it ties into Homeland Security, and maybe that is what bothers me the most. Is someone in the Pentagon getting his jollies off over my sex life?"

    A short gasp rippled across the table and several pairs of eyes seemed to widen visibly. Was there really cause for alarm? None of them had stopped to think about any ramifications. Life was too good, especially when one could know the whereabouts of one's spouse at any given point in time. But then again, this was true for the spouse as well.

    "Look", continued GF #2, "all I am trying to say is perhaps no one thought long enough or hard enough about this and where it might eventually lead. I know I didn't and I am usually one of the first to say 'wait a minute' when something new like this comes along. What are we giving up for what we are getting? Remember ladies, there is no free lunch."

    Another murmur of agreement.

    "But the part about the terrorists not being chipped and our being able to track them then is surely true isn't it?" one of the asked.

    GF #2 continued. "Well, it sounds good in theory, and perhaps there is some merit to it, however, think back to when other things have been hijacked. Phony driver's licenses, counterfeit money. Who's to say that this is not as easily manipulated? I for one am not happy at the thought of my government knowing what book I took out of the library, let alone having them track my every movement of every day. Know when Steve and I have sex, know what the kids are doing for homework, misinterpret the fact that we have Muslim friends and vacation with them sometimes. Know that the four of us are lunching together and what each of us will order. I would like to know just exactly what it is they know, or feel they have a need to know."

    Again, a mutual agreement murmur, as GF #2 said, "The worst part of this whole chip business is that we really know so little about it, and you can just forget about having it removed. If they are starting to chip newborns, we are all stuck with this little doo-daw for life."

    Susan Goodwin

    Related article:,,1714256,00.html

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    It's the Term Limits, Stupid: Part I

    The 22nd Amendment

    Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

    Section. 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

    Ratification was completed on February 27, 1951.

    Imagine, if you will, the following scenario:

    In the year 2000, Governor George W. Bush of Texas manages to gain the office of President of the United States by an extremely slim margin in the state of Florida due to a concerted Republican effort to suppress the voting rights of black Floridians and halt the unfinished vote recount in 4 Florida counties. Once in office, he breaks the law, lies to the American people and the world (with the help of other members of his administration), allows the largest terrorist attack in US history to take place despite the warning of the outgoing Clinton administration and his own intelligence community, and clears some brush.

    In 2004, he is re-elected to the office by supporting fabricated attacks on his opponent's military record, opportunistically using the pubic's memories of the very terrorist attack he allowed to happen in order to instill the image of himself as a hero and champion of freedom, and being friends with the right people (i.e., the ones who own of have owned voting machine companies). Thus far in his presidency, he has led the nation into an illegal war in which thousands of our sons and daughters and countless Iraqis have lost their lives, illegally wiretapped its citizens, racked up an astronomical deficit, and supported the torture of "detainees" at US controlled foreign prisons.

    In 2008, after thousands of additional lives have been lost, the deficit has reached a number no average American citizen can imagine, the world has lost any remaining shred of respect they once had for the US, the United States has illegally invaded yet another country (coughcoughIrancoughcough), and our civil liberties have shriveled to the point of nonexistance, good 'ole George runs again.

    Backed by the right-wing media machine, evangelical Christian leaders who preach politics from the pulpit while managing to avoid paying taxes, and indirect control over private electronic voting machine companies, he is handed the office of "leader of the free world" once again.

    By 2010, we are at war with the Middle East at large (with the important exception of Saudi Arabia, where 15 of those terrorist hijackers came from, which is of no consequence whatsoever), we have nuclear warheads pointed at Iran, North Korea, Syria, and just for fun, France (those wimps--who likes them anyway?). Our entire country has been mortgaged off to China to keep our wars financed. Our press is given statements each day directly from the White House Press Secretary, and the information herein is the only information they are allowed to pass on to the public. The White House press office is officially renamed Ministry of Information.

    The American public is now enormously supportive of the President, because he controls their access to news with an iron grip. The remaining dissidents (many have been arrested at this point as "enemy combatants" of the United States and either disposed of quietly or interned in camps built by Halliburton subsidiaries) are no longer able to communicate electronically due to the privatization of the Internet and univeral telephone surveillance and only survive by joining together and living in underground bunkers.

    In the year 2011, the United States, at the direction of its president, launches nuclear weapons at "key military targets" in the Middle East and succeeds in killing millions of innocent people and, due to ineffective long-term planning, the radiation from these bombings slowly creeps across the entire surface of the planet until the entire world population succumbs to violent radiation poisoning resulting in the complete extermination of the human race.

    [end scenario]

    Now, I realize that this little fairy tale is extreme (and please note that the current proposal to repeal the 22nd Amendment is not intended to apply to Bush and it is also sponsored by a Democrat), but it serves my purpose. The 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution was created and ratified to control the power of the executive. There is currently a bipartisan proposal arguing for a repeal of the amendment. There are arguments made both for and against repealing this amendment, and there is certainly merit to each side, but I want to suggest a third alternative.

    One side of the 22nd Amendment argument is that the amendment itself is undemocratic, as it takes control away from the voters by removing their ability to continue voting for a leader whom they support. There is logic to this. Voters are able to re-elect their Congressional representatives as many times as they choose, without limit. The only way in which Congressional offices are controlled is by the election process--every two or six years, the voters have the opportunity to choose a different representative or senator, and representatives and senators can be re-elected indefinitely. Presidents, on the other hand, have only two chances to serve in the office and are then ineligible for re-election. In this argument, it is assumed that the Legislative and Judicial branches have sufficient oversight power to control the Executive and keep the holder of that office from overreaching. This is the rationale currently being used to argue for a repeal.

    The other side argues that presidential term limits are an absolute necessity in order to control the power of the executive and keep it from expanding unreasonably. This argument takes into account the necessity of limiting executive power and understands that the legislature and judicial systems are not always able to counter that power due to their connections to the executive himself (i.e., a Supreme Court nominee of a sitting president is likely to side with that president on many issues and a member of Congress who comes from the same party as the executive may feel the same or may be under pressure to submit to the party's opinions on the issues).

    Both of these arguments are valid, but there is a third suggestion that is not often mentioned. I believe that presidential term limits are an absolute necessity, that it is vital to control the power of the executive in order to sustain a democratic state. However, so long as Congressional representatives are able to hold office indefinitely and judicial appointees are put on the bench for life, it is patently undemocratic to lock presidents out of office after only two terms. So, I have an alternative proposition to repealing the 22nd Amendment: We need to expand the provisions of the amendment to include members of Congress. We also need to impose term limits on members of the federal judiciary.

    We have fallen into a trap which I do not believe our nations' founders anticipated--a trap in which a whole new occupation has been birthed--the career of the politician. Instead of our country being led by honorable statesmen, it is led by career politicians who represent interest groups and business communities rather than the mass of the people. Many of these are first elected early in middle age and sit in the hall of our legislature until they are no longer physically or mentally capable of performing their duties. Our democracy would benefit twice over if this were no longer the case.

    Imposing the two term limit on United States senators would protect our democracy by allowing more Americans to take part in our government. As the system currently stands, it is very difficult to defeat an incumbent senator. If, every four or twelve years, it were mandatory for the senator or representative to be replaced, another United States citizen with the desire to work in public service would be granted that opportunity where he or she might not have if they were forced to face an incumbent. Also, if these members of Congress were not eligible to simply continue on in their posts, the American public would be much more likely to vote in midterm elections. Many Americans tend to vote only in presidential elections, because these are the most visible. Elections for the Senate and House often fly under the radar for voters because they do not receive as much publicity as presidential elections. I believe that imposing term limits on Congressional representatives would revatilize a tired electorate.

    In order to realize the true ideal of our democratic state, we must go one step further and impose term limits on the judiciary. Federal judges are appointed to the bench for life. They can only be removed from this office by force of law, retirement, or death. This is an extremely antiquated tradition, and it is vital to our continuing democratic success to eliminate it. Because federal judges are appointed by the executive, they are undeniably tied to the beliefs of the president who appoints them. Although these judges are intended to be impartial guardians of the rule of law, their position is, by its very nature, political and must be treated as such.

    I propose that a definitive term be set for members of the federal judiciary. Although they are not elected officials, they are placed in their posts by elected officials. A term of ten consecutive years seems like a reasonable limit to me. The term would begin on the day the appointee is confirmed by the Senate, and end ten years to that day. Some would argue that a term limit for a judge will politicize the judiciary, but I believe that since the judiciary would continue to operate outside of the electoral process, this would not be a problem. I propose that it would, in fact, moderate the courts by continually revolving the actual persons serving. The purpose of a democratic system of government is to safeguard the guarantee that government is carrying out the wishes of the majority of the public. Lifelong appointments are not conducive to this ideal.

    We have been searching desperately for new ways to revive the American electorate. Voters are often apathetic to the political process and feel that it is unrealistic to take part because it is so far removed from them personally. By allowing them to change the makeup of Congress more often, we give the power back to the people, where it belongs. By ensuring that judges will change regularly, we give them hope that our legal code will not grow stale, but will continue to grow as our perceptions of the world and our place in it evolve.

    By imposing mandatory term limits on all branches of our democratic government, we can finally fully realize the dream of our nation's founders--a government that is truly of, by, and for the people, with laws created by the consent of the governed.

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Win at Any Price

    A recent e-mail from the Interfaith Alliance shows just how low the Republicans are willing sink to win an election: soliciting church directories. In North Carolina, the state Republicans Party office is asking religious leaders for their church directories. Several church pastors, rightly so, have said they will not divulge their lists, citing inappropriate entanglement of partisan politics and religion.

    In response to this attempt by the GOP to obtain these lists to solicit supporters and obtain contributions, Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy , President of The Interfaith Alliance and Pastor for the Preaching and Worship at the Northminster Church in Monroe, Louisiana, released a statement condemning this attempt to mix politics and religion. He said, “If I found out that my church membership was shared with a campaign or political party, I would begin immediate legal action against the campaign or political party. It’s a serious mistake to consider worshipers in religious institutions as just another bloc of voters like farmers, labor unions, and corporate executives.

    “Collecting church directories intrudes on the integrity of houses of worship and compromises them by classifying them as political organizing tools…. and could lure religious organizations and religious leaders into dangerous unconstitutional territory.

    “Furthermore, the national GOP says the collection of church directories is for voter registration efforts. No one bought that defense during the 2004 elections and we won’t buy it in 2006 either. The role of religion and values in the 2004 election was that of a political strategy employed to achieve apolitical goal—winning an election—which there is no reason to believe that has not changed.”

    Has the GOP no shame! Don’t they get it or are they just so enamored with winning at any cost that any tactic is fair game. You would think that this particular tactic having been rejected in 2004 would not be tried again, but I guess in the take no prisoners world of Rove and company anything goes. The excuse that it is for voter registration is laughable considering the Florida scandal where voters likely to vote Democratic were illegally purged from the voter rolls so that Bush would win the state.

    If you hear of any attempt by political parties in your state to engage in this unconstitutional practice, I urge you to report it to The Interfaith Alliance at: policy@ This reprehensible tactic must be stopped.

    David M. Goldberg

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    Trouble Brewing

    A cold Sunday morning in February. Perhaps something to get your blood circulating more rapidly? Something to wonder about; something to fear.

  • The Tyranny that Follows

  • A Long War

  • The Führer Principle

  • A Pestilence


  • Saturday, February 18, 2006

    Team Davos

    While watching the Olympics yesterday I was struck by the indiscriminant use of the word "team." The word "contingent" might be more properly used to describe athletes of a nation pursuing their own personal competitive goals. After all, except in sports which are by definition "team sports": hockey, relays races, etc., the athletes are competing against one another.

    Then I read an article in The Nation by Jeff Faux (which I take to be his real name anyway) that put the Olympic "team" idea into a different perspective. The Party of Davos is must reading for anyone who has or wants the larger picture. The Global Economy IS developing a global ruling class ... and has been since the Fuggers and Medici, the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Gates, and so on. Think of the global ruling class as analogous to the sum of the Olympic contingents of all countries. No, there is not a chairman, but yes there is a richest, a next richest, a most powerful, a next most powerful, etc., and they play by their own rules. They are competing, but they dare not jostle too much lest they get jostled back rudely.

    Maybe they are less like the gold medalists and more like a pack of wolves.


    Friday, February 17, 2006

    Road Rage

    I spent last weekend in Los Angeles and down the coast to Carlsbad in San Diego County. I spent the previous 35 years of my life in this environment and, I have to tell you, change is taking place! The golden hills of coastal California are etched now with ever-broadening scars, endless tracts of three thousand square foot houses built fifteen feet apart on the treacherous hills, basking in the golden sun, sometimes alight with wildfires as this past week and weekend as Anaheim Hills burned smokily into the coastal basin. But that was not the most noticeable difference. The freeways were the telling sign of change.

    "The 405" calves off from Interstate 5 north of the City of Los Angeles, soars down the San Fernando Valley and across the Santa Monica Mountains past UCLA and the Getty Museum, plunging into the basin at Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards to rush southward past Howard Hughes and Westchester, LAX, through the refineries, then Long Beach, into faceless Orange County and cities without soul or substance eventually to rejoin the mother road at the El Toro "Y." During non-peak hours the ambient speed in the "diamond lane" for cars with passengers is 85 mph, the regular lanes ranging from 85 down to a demure 65 for cars about to careen onto off-ramps. The 405 speed limit is not posted and has not been for years!

    The 405 is an experiment, to be sure. The rest of the world, save Europe's larger cities, would scarcely understand the social compact that exists on the 405. It is an agreement to behave in a certain way, to respect momentum, to be conscious of activity in one's own lane six cars ahead and in other lanes as well. It is fundamentally an agreement to shed one's independence in favor of destination. Occasionally, though, there will be a Volvo or socially similar vehicle, usually 1980s vintage, driving at 65mph and not an fraction more. Sometimes you will encounter two traveling abreast creating a running roadblock for the teaming thousands behind them. They achieve a quiescence, of course, but at the expense of the goodwill of thousands. The urge to yell "mutherfucker" out a window at these Volvofascists is apparently irrepressable. And so, to the chaos of thousands of independent wills bound irresolutely to a common understanding of the fragility of freeway existence is added the bitter spice of road rage.

    My daughter, an attorney never late for a deposition, was driving. We were hurtling south past Torrance about to encounter the South Bay Curve and its inevitable slowing, where entropy increases as centrifugal forces pushing drivers' rear ends out of their seats and against doors or center consoles cause the wavelike slowing down, an inchworm effect that in thirty years (we simultaneously hoped aloud) would be computerized thus eliminating the inconvenience entirely. It was then that a slow epiphany rolled over me in my strained perch in the Passat's suicide seat.

    America is not a freeway country, despite the solemn and substantial commitment to them. No one lives on freeways; no one even breathes normally on freeways lest the fumes significantly shorten one's life. No, we live on Elm Streets and Chestnut Avenues. We are surface folk and we do not like significant change. We don't like long, variable radius curves, long hills, or blind alleys. We love our cars—Angelinos especially—because they are the agency of our imaginations. They take us to the mall, the theater, the mega-mart for groceries, and so forth. We have our paths and routes, and when we must we shed our personalities and dive onto a freeway to get somewhere more quickly, but we don't like it and don't feel right until we are back on "surface streets."

    Surface streets ply through obscured views. You are generally confined to a local area, its houses, buildings, stores, factories, or the immediate rural locale. You do not get to see as far as you do on the freeway and you do not notice that there are way more people out and about than just a few years or even months ago. On the freeway you cannot help but notice, and the immediacy of there being ten thousand (it seems) cars all going 85 in the same direction brings a moment of panic that even NASCAR fans experience. There are just too many of us! This cannot work out!

    Road rage is an epiphenomenon of the broken social compact. Statistics will tell you that after a certain number of cars in each mile of freeway the odds of finding a compact-breaker becomes 100%. Compact breakers not only endanger our lives and destinations, they represent a larger truth. That truth is that the city, the state, and the nation now seem less viable than once they were under the old assumptions. But might it not be that we have not assembled our thoughts and coalitions to meet the challenge of large numbers and heterogeneity? Is it possible that freeway driving is a metaphor for political life?

    Democrats, being the more heterogeneous of coalitions are particularly vulnerable to fractures of the social compact. How big a freeway or political party can we bring ourselves to drive these days if our destination is to be social and economic justice for individuals? The stretch of The 405 through Seal Beach, for instance, carries California Route 22 along for several miles and it is fourteen lanes wide, not counting shoulders and on-ramp/off-ramp merge lanes! Is this not a situation where the original freeway social compact has become obsolete? If so, how do drivers negotiate this flood, this avalanche of automobiles, this torrent of differing purposes?

    Republicans don't have the same freeway problem, because they promise only a ride. They do not even try to obscure your fear of terror, minorities, economic ruin, Chinese, Arabs, etc. They do not promise a fix or goal, just a ride. Democrats on the other hand need goals, need to produce good works, minimum wage supports, medical care, income security, a level playing field for all races. Can Democrats do this honestly with so many lanes and cars hurtling past?

    I think it is possible, but we have to rid ourselves of the compact breakers, the DLCs, the pantywaist drivers who become frightened and reflexively slow down. Freeways speeds of 85-90 are not only possible, but necessary. They move far more traffic than speeds of 55 and 65. Cars are better than ever and road surfaces are good and signs are clear and intelligently placed. In other words, liberals and progressives, we have imagined a system that works, we only have to have the courage to use it.

    Join the 84%(!) at who voted this week to expel the DLC from the Democratic Party. Ditch Evan Bayh and the conservative fifth columnists, the traitors to the cause, the pluto-democrats and everything they stand for. The real Liberals and Progressives in the Party can stand on principle and win. Just watch!

    James Richard Brett

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    The Lies & Depraved Indifference of "Conservatives"

    Full disclosure: I am not a Christian. Irrespective of my faith or lack thereof, however, I consider some of the declarations attributed to Jesus Christ among the wisest ever uttered.

    "By their fruits shall ye know them."

    "For I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat:

    I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

    I was a stranger, and ye took me not in:

    naked, and ye clothed me not:

    sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    Then shall they also answer him, saying,  

    Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or thirsty,

    or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison,  

    and did not minister unto thee?

    Then shall he answer them, saying,

    Verily I say unto you,

    ye did it not to me."

    This is an irrefutable fact: the vast, VAST majority of elected politicians in this country call themselves Christians. Especially, it seems, the Republicans and “Conservatives” and their putative leaders: George W. Bush, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist.

    "Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me."

    "Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commandments are pegs; everything in God's law and the Prophets hangs from them."

    These self-declared "Christians" are LIARS. Their platitudes and photo opportunities and exclamations of concern for the poor, the suffering, the displaced and the disenfranchised are LIES. Judge them not by their words, but by their actions. By their ACTIONS, they expose themselves as hypocrites, thieves and LIARS.

    It is NOT ENOUGH to come upon the scene of devastation and bemoan the loss of life and property. The legislation, policies and deregulation that Republicans and “Conservatives” have espoused and worked toward installing in this country are the foundation of disasters like the aftermath of Katrina. THEY and their political philosophies are the reason there are so many poor people in this country, that there were so many people doomed in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

    But the beauty of it, in their shrewd and mendacious view, is that very few of their constituents can recognise the bald-faced truth: it is the racism of centuries, the decades of greed enabled by political actions and the depraved indifference to the laws of their purported Saviour that brought us to this place and time.

    What we face, in the Republicans and “Conservatives” of today, is a huge group of people who are either so blinded by their insular, privileged existence or so venal in their depraved indifference to the common good that they have spent their lives actively contradicting virtually every dictum of Jesus Christ. These Republicans and “Conservatives” are LIARS when they claim to be Christians, whether or not they know it.

    The charitable view is that they are terribly ignorant and so gone astray that they know not what they do. More likely, I fear, is that they know exactly what they have done and are doing - and they DO. NOT. CARE. They pay lip service to Christianity because it is the fastest route toward legitimacy in this country as a politician. But if they actually believe in Jesus Christ and his teachings, it is inconceivable that they should so consistently behave as they do.

    Each piece of legislation, each reprehensible act of eradicating protection of the vulnerable and constructing easier paths for their "own kind" - that is to say, the wealthy, the corporate, the invulnerable, the privileged - fairly reeks of hypocrisy and sin, in the lexicon of Christianity - and mere human decency.

    The wealthy and privileged of the world - and that includes most of the powerful Republicans and “Conservatives” in this country - either never learned or have forgotten a simple truth:

    But for the grace of god, there go I.

    In other, less ecclesiastical words, it is sheer LUCK that one is born into wealth, privilege and power. Sheer fucking LUCK that one zygote landed into a rich white family in Philadelphia and another in a poor black family in New Orleans. And for the vast majority of the wealthy and the privileged and the powerful, any claim of entitlement solely by virtue of birth is as absurd as taking credit for one's physical beauty. It was CHANCE that brought you to your existence and not that of a baby born with AIDS in a war-torn refugee camp in Sudan.

    And if you believe, as many wealthy, powerful people seem to believe, that GOD put you where you are, that GOD determined that your human existence should be one of privilege and virtual invulnerability to the trials and tribulations of most others' experience of human existence, then you are REQUIRED, by your own declared religious beliefs, to remember this fact:

    But for the grace of GOD, there go I.

    For the most part, if you're living in America and you're rich and healthy, it was mostly about CHANCE - or, if you like, God's grace. You CHANCED to be born American, white, healthy, intelligent, with good parents.

    By CHANCE or God's grace, you are someone who has managed not to be gravely injured in a car accident or natural disaster and then dependent on the largesse of the state and individual charity for your survival.

    By CHANCE or God's grace, you are nurtured in your chosen field, given the right opportunities to succeed, advanced in the right company and not laid off or outsourced.

    By CHANCE or God's grace, you have healthy children whose medical needs (let alone education) do not bankrupt you.

    By CHANCE or God's grace, you were not born poor and black in Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama.

     It's ALL luck. There are millions of people who, through no fault of their own, live in poverty, disease, unemployment and a myriad of other desperate circumstances who, through no fault of their own, they have no way to pull themselves up out of by their "bootstraps." Millions of people, in fact, who don't have BOOTS.


    "Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commandments are pegs; everything in God's law and the Prophets hangs from them."

    "By their fruits shall ye know them"

    Ah, yes. We judge the actions, not the words. We see these Republicans and “Conservatives” standing before America, claiming to be Christians, claiming to believe the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    And we also see them doing everything in their considerable power to subvert the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    Christians, my ASS, you hypocritical, appalling, despicable, criminal LIARS.

    As for George's war -- "THOU SHALT NOT KILL."

    As for George's love of the death penalty -- "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."

    As for the reprehensible Republican vilification of gays: "LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF."

     I could go on, but I am developing a migraine contemplating the UNCONSCIONABLE HYPOCRISY espoused in virtually every tenet of the Republican, right wing, "conservative," so-called "Christian" mindset in REPUBLICAN AMERICA.


    You may now return to the business of stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. I see you have on your schedule the permanent repeal of the Estate Tax; wouldn't want to slow you down in your seemingly inexorable march toward a welfare state, a return to feudalism. Might want to take a look at gutting Social Security and Medicare, while you're at it; hell, you have all the power - might as well make use of it, right? What's the point of being rich and powerful if you can't use it to get MORE rich and powerful?

    Fucking assholes.

    Maryscott O'Connor

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Finger Pointing

    When I was small, and something happened in my house, there was no question as to who the "perp" was, it was I. As an almost only child, (one brother 13 years older than I), I stood out like a sore thumb. When my own children were little, a woman named "Ida Know" moved in with us. Ida was guilty of some pretty serious stuff. Not only have my grandchildren gone an looked old Ida up, and invited her back, they also seem to believe that whomever is not around, when the mischief takes place, is the one to shoulder the blame.

    This all sounds vaguely like our current administration, with one exception. In the first instance, I am speaking about small children, learning to make their way in the world, learning to accept responsibility for their actions, and telling the truth, a part of the growing up process. The second group are those who should have left this sort of behavior behind when they left home for college. Then again, some never do grow up and will blame anyone if it means not taking responsibility for one's own actions. I really expected to hear Mr Cheney blame the quail for his missed shot. "If the blasted bird had flushed up to the right instead of the left I would have nailed him! Must have been a G..D... liberal bird it headed left! Har, har, har!" However that particular scenario played out, I do think it is time for Mr. Cheney to visit the optometrist.

    But have we had anyone in this administration with the decency to say they take the blame for so many wrong moves? No. The most we have gotten was a gaggle of fingers all pointing in opposite directions, sometimes even at us, as being solely responsible for the latest SNAFU. So far, the only ones who have, are those who were willing to admit their mistakes, or lack of judgement, and have departed just as the fickle finger of fate was swinging around towards them. And the mantra, from those who stay solidly rooted in Camp Bush, has been, "disgruntled employee". Bush cheerleaders will give you any number of reasons why this or that particular employee was the one responsible for the ineptitude. It always seems to be someone, on a lower ladder rung, who has taken off and done something without the boss' knowledge. And boy are they quick to point that finger, all the while exclaiming, loudly... I had no idea!...I will have to check that out...I will check with the [insert name here] about that.

    The powers that be totally ignored the red flags of 9/11, and Richard Clarke, the man, who in the past two administrations (Bush I and Clinton) was known as the Terrorism Czar, was labeled a disgruntled employee because Bush had not seen fit to include his position as a Cabinet post any longer. In hindsight, Mr. Clarke was right, but you never heard that, what you got, instead, was a video loop of Condi Rice saying "mushroom cloud", and an administration saying that Clarke had no idea what he was talking about. At least he apologized, even after he was out of the loop entirely, and his life as a dedicated public servant had been marginalized by the neo-cons. Please remember that Richard Clarke was a man dedicated to protecting this country, our country, his country, and he had managed to be respected enough in his position by both previous administrations. Disgruntled? No. Frustrated with the ineptitude and disinterest in what he tried to warn about? Yes.

    Hans Blix, the man who knew Iraq like the back of his hand, said, there are no WMD's. This was someone who had spent a great deal of his time looking in hidey holes, just so he could state that there were none. Well, says Bush & Co., he has had to have overlooked something because we have Colin Powell and he has pictures, and a picture is worth a thousand words, no? And when in truth no WMD's were found, it was not, "oops, we are sorry, we were mistaken, we misspoke," it was blame the CIA, FBI and Hans Blix day down at the ranch. Colin Powell refused to play the blame game any more. Even though I had already lost the respect I once had for the man, he had the decency to fade away, and to take, what remained of his good, name with him, never pointing a finger.

    And what can one say about Joe Wilson? America's answer to James Bond. Here was a man who had had a stellar diplomatic career (1976-1998), who was the last American Diplomat in Iraq in the lead up to the Gulf War ( under Bush I) and had, himself, publicly defied Saddam Hussein. His specialty was Africa and so seemed a good fit to be sent to Niger to check out the yellow cake story. We may never know who's idea it was for Mr. Wilson to go to Niger (the blame game again here folks...lots of fingers pointed) but in fact his report back to the Bush White House did not tie into their plans and so it was now "get Wilson" time. We may also never know who exactly it was who "outed" CIA operative Valerie Plame, a/k/a Mrs. Joe Wilson, but to have done so was definitely a crime of the highest order. More fingers have been pointed in the Plame/Wilson affair then in any other. Several reporters spent some jail time when the finger pointed in their direction. Suddenly, the fox was getting too close to the hen house, so this became a double sacrifice. A covert CIA agent and a, just high enough, White House official to satisfy those demanding an answer. I "Scooter" Libby fit the bill and, so Scoooter, this finger is for you!

    Those are just a few examples, the better known ones for sure, of how this administration is capable of twisting information for their benefit, and the disinformation they have foisted on us, supposedly for ours. So why the citizenry is not more outraged over Bush tactics and is not responding, I do not know. I do know it is easy enough to spot the child who is telling an "untruth" They shuffle their feet, some blush, they stutter and stammer, they are quick to point the finger towards another, hence giving themselves away. This administration resembles children running amok in a world of adult enablers.

    With most children, there comes a day, if you are really lucky, that the finger they point is towards themselves. They have grown up.

    Susan B. Goodwin

    It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.—Samuel Adams